There are many amazing National Parks in the United States. One of the most underrated National Parks is Haleakala National Park on the Island of Maui. This travel guide has everything you will need to know for planning a visit to Haleakala National Park. Be sure to also check out my full travel guide for planning your trip to the Island of Maui.
ABOUT THE PARK
This park is different from most as it is located in a tropical Hawaiian paradise. There are two National Parks in Hawaii, Haleakala National Park on Maui and Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Haleakala National Park is broken up into two parts; the Summit District at the mountain peak and the Kipahulu District down at sea level. Be sure to schedule a trip to both sides as they are each part of the must visit destinations on Maui.
THE SUMMIT DISTRICT
One of the most sought out attractions on Maui is visiting Haleakala National Park for Sunrise. From the summit, you will enjoy 360 degree unobstructed views of the island. On a clear day you will be able to see the neighboring Hawaiian Islands as well. Due to the climate patterns on the island, you may be enjoying the view from above the clouds (this is actually a good thing!)
Although best known for sunrise, visiting Haleakala National Park at sunset is a much better experience.
Sunrise Hike is more popular and requires reserving a ticket well in advance. Be sure to reserve your spot at Recreation.Gov if you plan to visit for sunrise. There are no restrictions for Sunset Hike as long as you arrive two hours before sunset. You will want to get here early anyways as you will want to explore the area and there is a long windy drive to the top.
5 Reasons to visit the summit for sunset:
- Visiting at sunset means you don't need to set an alarm!
- You can be flexible and don't need to win a reserved spot
- There are a lot of bikers riding down the hill and it can take a while to drive down
- Enjoy the scenery as you drive up instead of driving in the dark
- You can see the weather throughout the day and decide if you want to go or not
If you do plan to go for sunrise, be sure to book a reservation for your first full day on the island. With the time zone change, you won't be agitated by an early alarm clock as you will most likely be awake before sunrise.
A few things to know:
- Bring a jacket and pants (it may be 80 degrees at the beach but it will be chilly up top!)
- Bring a folding chair - there isn’t many comfortable areas to sit while you watch the sunset
- Pack a cooler with some drinks and snacks - enjoy breakfast or dinner at the top!
THE KIPAHULU DISTRICT
This area of the park is very different from the Summit as you will be along the warm beaches. The entrance to this part of the park is at the very end of the iconic Road To Hana. Be sure to check out my full Road to Hana Travel Guide for all the best places to visit along the way.
This trailhead starts just at the parking lot. You can either hike up the trail to the waterfalls or down to the tide pools and beach area below. If you only have time for one, choose the waterfalls!
Pools of Ohe’o - Secen Sacred Pools
Head down the path to the pools where you will see beautiful reflection ponds and flowing waterfalls. These cascading waterfalls and plunge pools lead in to the neighboring blue Hawaiian oceans.
This 1.8 mile round trip hike is easily the best hike on Maui and one of my favorite hikes in general. The hike brings you through a rainforest with beautiful Banyan Trees and a Bamboo Jungle. Continue forward and you will get to the finale, a 400 foot waterfall.
This is the perfect adventure to end after a day of exploring waterfalls and beaches on the Road to Hana.